WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Off Lease Only, a used car dealership based in West Palm Beach, has closed all of its locations after filing for bankruptcy, putting 466 people out of work in Florida.
Before halting opereations, it had 500 vehicles at its five sites: 1200 S. Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach, North Lauderale, Bradenton, Opa Locka and Orlando. It also had an operation in Katy, Texas, near Houston with 79 losing their jobs.
The company cited "significant challenges and competitive pressures resulting from unprecedented changes to the automotive retail landscape," according to a news release Thursday. "The industry has been impacted by inventory scarcity, and vehicle price inflation stemming from supply chain disruptions and multi-year declines in new vehicle production. Elevated pricing and rising interest rates have further deteriorated conditions in the automotive retail market, weakening consumer demand and affordability."
Off Lease Only said it explored a range of strategic options but "industry headwinds coupled with the decreased affordability of used vehicles have necessitated the decision to pursue an orderly wind down of the business."
Since 2004, Off Lease Only has sold over 300,000 vehicles, according to its website, "is also proud to be honored as DealerRater's Used Car Dealer of the Year, an Edmunds 5-Star Premier Dealer and receives every year a stellar A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau."
Founders Mark and Eileen Fischer started with just two cars and their life savings and grew their business into one of the largest volume used car dealers in Florida.
The company was 20% owned by the founders and 80% by New York-based investment firm Cerberus Capital Management.
The company disclosed assets and liabilities between $100 million and $500 million, and between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors, according to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
CEO Leland Wilson asked the bankruptcy court to allow the company to return deposits paid by customers whose purchases were not yet financed before shutdown, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Former Off Lease Only employees told WTVJ they let were let go Wednesday with little warning.
Those laid off will receive at least two paychecks and any remaining earned commission, according to an internal document obtained by WOFL.
"Off Lease Only is winding down its operations and is closed to the public," the company posted on its website. "In an effort to responsibly wind down operations of the business, we have filed for voluntary protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code."
For more information, people are asked to call a hotline at 888-383 -5791 for U.S. calls or (332) 322 - 9802 for international calls or visit https://cases.stretto.com/OLO. For customer inquiries, firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Thank you to our valued customers for your years of patronage," the company wrote.